The Renaissance and Humanism
I have been immensely impressed by Bruno Latour. I am a natural hero-worshiper - but I am now assessing him more carefully.
For him, modernity began with the Scientific Revolution. Which, as any historian of Science will admit – never happened. Latour describes what did happen better than anyone else I know. But he ignores what happened just before that.
What happened were three earth-shaking events – the Renaissance and Humanism that began in Italy. And the Reformation that began in Germany and Switzerland.
The Reformation produced religious wars, the worst that had ever been seen in Europe. And these produced (in a very strange way) Modernity, and Science – and eventually the Industrial Revolution, which was real.
Southern Europe (and Latin America) were not touched by the Reformation. And remained undeveloped – and poor. France remained a special case, but never became Protestant.
Latour (a Frenchman) never goes into these series of events – the Renaissance and Humanism, which were very human. And the religious wars and their impact (including technologies) – that made people less human. He fails to make this very important contrast.
He has a lot of company. We have forgotten our human past. And we have no intention of remembering it.